There has been a lumber yard in the vicinity of Hawthorne St. & Vine Ave, since the beginning of Fallbrook. Large amounts of sawed logs were needed to build the new town. As soon as West Fallbrook was surveyed in 1885, merchants were anxious to start building.
However, because trees were scarce on the mostly dry plateau of West Fallbrook, lumber had to travel a long way. Logs were floated down the coast by ship or barges from the Pacific Northwest to San Diego or Oceanside, which had their own lumber needs. Fallbrook received its building materials by train.
In the 1880s and 1890s, Fallbrook’s train station was down in the Santa Margarita Canyon. Wagons met the trains at the station to haul loads of boards up to West Fallbrook.
Initially, lumber was sold by the same men selling the land, Francis W. Bartlett and William Scott, who had a lumber yard in the center of West Fallbrook on Alvarado Street, but Bartlett and Scott did not remain in the lumber business for long.
In 1893, A.F Cate, a carpenter and contractor, was the owner of the Fallbrook Lumber Company. Cate’s principal Fallbrook Lumber Yard was situated at the corner of Vine St. and Juniper St (now E. Mission Rd.) just one block from where the modern-day Pine Tree Lumber has been located since 1952.
Since 1887, A.F. Cate had a secondary lumber yard a few blocks south at Fig & Main St to be near his project of building the Willard hotel. After Cate died in 1896, his estate sold off the lumber yards. Will Crane eventually became owner of the Fallbrook Lumber Yard at Juniper & Vine. Sam Graffin became owner of Graffin’s Lumber at the Fig & Main portion. Graffin planned to grow his business.
In 1910, Sam Graffin bought a lot on the corner of Main Ave & Hawthorne St. in West Fallbrook to expand his lumber yard. Graffin bought out Will Crane in 1912 and merged the lumber yards on Hawthorne St.
In 1916, the Graffin lumber facilities remaining on Fig Street were required to move to make way for the coming Santa Fe railroad. Graffin’s buildings on Fig St. were physically moved to Hawthorne St. The following year the Fallbrook train station opened on Alvarado St, much closer to the lumber yard than before.
In March 1924, Sam Graffin sold his ‘Fallbrook Lumber’ business to Hayward Lumber of Los Angeles.
In December 1952, Pine Tree Lumber of Escondido bought the business and purchased all the vacant land adjoining the Hayward Lumber yard.
This gave Pine Tree Lumber a full block frontage on Vine St and partial frontage on Hawthorne, Orange, and Ivy Streets.
In August 1953, over 70 years ago, Pine Tree Lumber erected a lumber shed that ran the full length of Vine St between Hawthorne & Ivy. It is still there today.
To finish the story… A new Fallbrook Lumber Company was founded in 1946 at the SW corner of Main Ave and Live Oak Road (now Fallbrook Street). Otis Heald was the general manager. The benefit of this location was that the train tracks passed within a few feet of the yard. The train could drop off lumber deliveries alongside the yard.
This new Fallbrook Lumber Co. eventually became the parent company of The Good Guys Home Center that opened across the street in 1973. The Fallbrook Lumber yard famously suffered a severe fire in October 1975, but the business survived and continued for several more years. Fallbrook Lumber Co. was bought by Ace Hardware in 1982 and moved to E. Mission Road. It is no longer there.
2) Fallbrook Observer, Oct 27, 1893
3) Sanborn fire Insurance map, Fallbrook Aug, 1892
4) Maie Ellis History of Fallbrook.
5) Union Tribune Feb 2, 1910.
6) Fallbrook Enterprise December 15, 1911.
7) Fallbrook Enterprise February 29, 1924.
8) Fallbrook Enterprise December 19, 1952